Above: Our new 4th graders putting on their maroon blazers during the Opening Doors ceremony. Below: Joseph Cotten (Class of 2016, center) takes part in the ceremonial groundbreaking for our new building.
Opening Anew and Breaking New Ground!
September 13th brought sunshine and smiles (behind masks) as the St. James School community gathered in person for the first time in 19 months to celebrate two momentous occasions: starting our 11th school year and breaking ground on our new building! 

Over 30 staff and 85 students were joined by dozens of parents/guardians of new students and nearly 60 guests for a special program on the first day of school. Many also attended virtually via livestream. (If you missed it, you can watch a recording on our Facebook page.) The crowd filled rows of chairs in the field at the corner of Clearfield and 32nd Streets, which is soon to be a construction site.
All were invited to write a wish, prayer, or hope for St. James on a ribbon and tie it to our fence.
Principal Dave McDonough and 8th grader Jonathan announcing the new students' names.
Led by Director of Choral Music & Music Education Javvieaus Stewart, everyone joined in singing “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” After the opening prayer, Head of School Dave Kasievich began the program by saying, “Today is a day of thanksgiving.” He talked about the school's history and what to look forward to in our next decade. 

Before we welcomed 14 new 4th graders and eight transfer students, London (Class of 2022) shared “11 tips for a successful career at St. James” in honor of the school's 11th year (listed below because these are good tips for all of us).
We dedicated our building site with a blessing and various community members were invited to put the first shovels in the ground. They included neighbor and RAH Civic Association member Estelle Smith, Board member and graduate parent Shenia Reddy, Board Chair The Rev. Frank Allen, Co-founder The Rev. Sean Mullen, graduate Joseph Cotten (Class of 2016), President of the Parent/Guardian Association Yolanda Tremble, 8th grade students London and Jonathan, investors in the Reach & Sustain Campaign Bill Buck and Jackie Brady, Chair of the New Building Committee John Stetson, and founding Advisory Board member Dr. Darryl Ford, who is Head of School for William Penn Charter School.

“It is truly a gift, a privilege, and a blessing to be here as we create this new environment for St. James," Jackie Brady said. "It is a remarkable testament to what is possible if we don’t set any limits on ourselves and if we really believe that we can make a difference in a very large and meaningful way.” 
#11: Don’t be nervous. It will all be ok.

#10: Try and make friends with everyone...because you’re stuck with them for life.

#9: Don’t turn pebble problems into mountain problems.

#8: Don’t let those pebble problems affect your studies.

#7: Learn good time management skills.

#6: USE YOUR PLANNER!

#5: Get enough sleep.

#4: Turn in your homework on time.

#3: Get to school at least 10-15 minutes early.

#2: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Questions make you smarter. 

#1: Have a good time!

Invited guests gathered under the shade trees on our campus.
4th grader Niecey reciting the student pledge for the first time
After the festivities, everyone was invited to write a special wish, prayer, or hope for St. James on a ribbon and tie it to our fence. Next time you are on campus, you are welcome to add to your own!
If you'd like to help us safely adapt to construction displacement, please consider making a donation by CLICKING HERE
Randy shows his cabin pride, representing the Springfield cabin at Camp Agawam.
Outstanding Camper Represents St. James
Randy (Class of 2022) had perhaps the most unusual summer among current St. James students. For seven weeks, he attended Camp Agawam in Raymond, Maine — one of the oldest and most traditional summer camps for boys in the U.S. Rule number one: Leave your phone at home!

He learned how to do woodworking and archery, played competitive sports, and lived in a cabin with other boys. By the end of the summer, Randy had won the highest number of outstanding camper awards, including recognition for basketball, woodshop, archery, and cabin conduct.

The opportunity to send a student arose because St. James ELA teacher Sarah Carroll has an uncle on the camp's board and many cousins among the counselors. Our faculty selected Randy to represent St. James.

The rising 8th grader stepped out of his comfort zone by spending time in the water every day to learn how to swim and going on multiple overnight canoeing trips. Leaving home for seven weeks might have been a struggle for some boys his age, but Randy said, “It was fine with me. It helped me become independent.” 

His favorite memory from Camp Agawam? "Playing basketball with the other campers,” Randy shared, “And I definitely want to continue doing woodshop as an alumni at St. James. I woodworked a paddle, plaques, and a gift for my mom.”
Kenneth reviewing expectations with his first class of 6th graders.
A Word with...New Math Teacher Kenneth Jones
Though Kenneth is not new to St. James, he is new to his role as Math Teacher. Previously, he was an assistant to Math Teacher Annie Lerew. He came to St. James from Elwyn, a non-public school services agency.

What is your professional background?
I have a BA in Mathematics and a Masters in Education. I have 10 years of experience in education, serving in many roles, including math teacher and learning and emotional support staff.

What will your roles be at St. James?
I will teach all things mathematics to the 4th through 8th grades, which includes 85 students. I will also serve as the 8th grade homeroom teacher. Additionally, I will lead three after-school enrichment activities: the Math Group, the 5th Grade Boys’ Group, and the Chess Group. I will also continue to serve on the Racial Equity Team, which I joined two years ago.

What excites you the most about teaching math?
Making math accessible to all students. To the students who say they don’t like math or find it too hard, I say, “I cannot promise you that math will become your best friend, but I can promise that you will get along.”

What do you see as your biggest challenge of the school year?
The COVID gaps — the holes in learning that occurred due to the students not being in-person for so many months. We have a lot of work to do academically to fill in those gaps.

What is your favorite thing about St. James School?
That it is bigger than just a school — it does work with the church, with families, and with neighbors. It’s a pillar of the community.

What are you most looking forward to this year?
Getting the 8th graders excited about graduation and prepared for the transition to high school!

One Way You Can Help
Madeleine (Servant Year member 2019-2021) and Journee (Class of 2024) paired up in a two-person kayak
Photos Show the Joy of Our Return to NorthBay
After a long two-year wait, our rising 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th graders excitedly returned to NorthBay Adventure Center in July. Each class enjoyed two jam-packed days of adventure, education, and team-building activities at the camp in North East, Maryland.

The summer experience is a beloved annual tradition that had to be suspended last year due to the pandemic. Students enjoyed zip-lining, kayaking, swimming, fishing, tubing, navigating a treetop ropes course, indoor rock climbing, and trying the famed giant swing!

The photos below share some of the fun. Students are already counting down the days until our next visit to NorthBay in 2022!
 
St. James School is a faith-based Philadelphia middle school in the Episcopal tradition, committed to educating students from an under-resourced neighborhood within a nurturing environment. The school is a community that provides a challenging academic program and encourages the development of the moral, spiritual, intellectual, physical and creative gifts in its students.
St. James School | 215-226-1276 | www.StJamesPhila.org